CYCLISTS will get a rare opportunity to see the famed birdlife of Foulness Island on an annual charity bike ride.

The annual Foulness Island Bike Ride, organised by the Rotary Club of Thorpe Bay, will take place on Sunday (31st August 2014), in aid of Southend Hospital's Keyhole Cancer Appeal.

Visitors are normally only allowed on the island with the permission of Qinetiq – which manages it on behalf of the Ministry of Defence.

But the rules are relaxed once a year to allow adults and children to see the island’s wildlife while their sponsorship and donations help to raise cash for good causes.

Cyclists can visit the hidden villages of Courtsend and Churchend, and take in the island’s beautiful scenery and wildlife en route.

The Foulness bike ride has become a staple in south Essex’s fundraising calendar since it was first held in 2000.

In the past 13 years, the event has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for charitable causes.

A spokesman for Thorpe Bay Rotary said: "We are delighted that once again we are able to offer the opportunity on Sunday 31st August 2014 to cycle on this lovely local island that cannot normally be entered without a special pass.

This year, the ride will raise money for the new Keyhole Cancer Appeal which aims to raise £600,000 for the provision of a new state-of-the-art laparoscopic (keyhole surgery) theatre suite at Southend  Hospital. 

"Upon completion surgeons will be able to perform the latest and most complex keyhole procedures for patients undergoing cancer and general surgery. Hundreds of Southend patients are likely to benefit each year; these include people suffering with bowel and prostate cancer or gynecological conditions.  Many of these patients would have previously had to have ‘open’ surgery’ which would have meant longer hospital stays and recovery times and greater post-operative pain and scarring."

People taking part in the ride can enjoy refreshments at Great Wakering Primary School where the ride starts and we hope that you will visit the Heritage Centre in the former Foulness Church of England Primary School built in 1846.  Developed by the local residents it contains many fascinating exhibits showing the history of life in this timeless corner of Essex. Refreshments will also be available at the Heritage Centre and Churchend Post Office Store.

Riders can register and pay online at